Events to watch: Isleworth | U.S. Collegiate
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
Dates: Oct. 23-25
Course: Isleworth Country Club, Windermere, Fla.
2010 team Champion: Alabama
2010 medalist: Bank Vongvanij, Florida
The field: Alabama, Augusta State, California, Florida, Indiana, LSU, North Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, UCF and Vanderbilt
The scoop: Fifteen of the top programs in the country will tee off Sunday morning in one of the most elite fields in college golf. Texas enters the tournament off two impressive wins at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate and Jack Nicklaus, where the team won by a combined 36 strokes. California also will enter the tournament this week with a lot of confidence after a tie for first with Oregon at their own Alister MacKenzie Invitational. The two Pac-12 schools each shot 41-under 811 to share first place. One team on which to keep a close eye is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have played their last two tournaments without Peter Uihlein, and their last time out finished 10th at the Jack Nicklaus. Defending tournament champion Alabama will be looking for its first victory of the year, and coach Jay Seawell will be relying on Hunter Hamrick, Cory Whitsett and Bobby Watt to help the team repeat as tournament champs this week.
Wildman's Pick: Texas. How do you go against Texas right now? The Longhorns’ two victories this year have come in dominating fashion, and they seem to be getting better each week. Coach John Fields already has a win under his belt at Isleworth. In 2006, Jhonattan Vegas lead Texas to a 12-stroke victory over Florida. Five years later and another Vegas will be in the lineup for the Longhorns. Julio Vegas, Jhnonattan's younger brother, will try to have his own success with his Longhorn teammates in one of the biggest events of the year.
Sleeper: UCF. I know I'll probably be called a homer, but the Knights may just prove me right. UCF has the opportunity to play Isleworth a couple times a year, plus they do play in this event annually. The Knights started the year with back-to-back wins at the Northern Intercollegiate and Adams Cup, and then held their own with an eighth-place showing at the Prestige at PGA West. Coach Wallor and his squad won't exactly have a home-course advantage, but this team should be prepared when it tees off Sunday. Don't be shocked if the Knights finish in the top 5 in this one.
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U.S. Collegiate Championship
Dates: Oct. 23-25
Course: The Golf Club of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga.
2010 team Champion: Georgia Tech
2010 medalist: James White, Georgia Tech
The field: Auburn, Clemson, Duke, East Tennessee State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Kent State, USC, Texas A&M, UCLA, Virginia, Wake Forest and Washington
The Scoop: It's a shame that Isleworth and the U.S. Collegiate are played on the exact same days, because each of these tournaments could stand out on its own. Fourteen top teams from all across the country will play 54 holes at the Golf Club of Georgia. The host Yellow Jackets are coming off their first win of the year at the Brickyard, and will try to win once again in their home state as they defend their title from a year ago. Three of the Pac-12's best will make the trip east, and UCLA, USC and Washington are all talented enough to win this week. In the tournament's short five-year history, only one team from the West Coast has won and that was USC in 2008. The team starting the tournament with maybe the most confidence, however, could be Kent State. The Golden Flashes are coming off their second victory of the year at the Bank of Tennessee at Blackthorn Club.
Wildman's Pick: Georgia Tech. It's hard to see the Yellow Jackets getting stung at their home event. After an up-and-down start to the year, Coach Bruce Heppler's team seems to have things going in the right direction. Following a win at the Brickyard, Georgia Tech now will get to play on a golf course with which it is very familiar. The Yellow Jackets are a talented bunch,lead by defending tournament medalist James White and freshman Anders Albertson. Look for some home cooking once again at the U.S. Collegiate.
Sleeper Pick: Clemson. In the tournament's five year history, the Tigers have won twice. Coach Larry Penley's teams are always well prepared when they make the short trip south to Georgia. It’s true that the Tigers have had some solid performances this year, but they still need to figure out how to start tournaments more effectively. Finishing hasn't quite been the problem. At the Bank of Tennessee, Clemson was in last place after the first round, but was able to rebound and post a strong sixth-place showing. If Clemson can post a good first round, then this team has the talent and ability to hold off surges from other teams. And if Clemson were to win this event for the third time in six years, would it be considered the home team?